TRANSPARENT TERRITORY – In his dizzying new series of maps for groundlessness, Gerhard Marx continues his investigations into the formal and fictive possibilities of perspective. Rupturing the flat surface of the map, he removes the illusion of solid ground and replaces it with a hovering, vertigo-inducing sense of uncertainty. The shape and notion of ‘the frame’ recurs in several mise-en-abymesequences across the works. Stacked in recurring configurations, its rectangular form has been bent into a series of optical riddles or Escherian landscapes.

When Marx cuts into the map it is a kind of violation – an act of violence against the institutions and processes of global modernity through which the world was filtered to him. That violence is present in the energy of dispersion, ruination and collapse that ripples through the fragmented surfaces of these works. But the story does not end with deconstruction. Offsetting it is the meditative, embodied practice of reconstitution. In constructing his drawings from the ‘found lines’ of decommissioned and discarded maps, Marx displaces the scientific authority of cartography with the subjective impulse of calligraphy.  
To some extent, his map drawings call to mind mounting tensions within South Africa in relation to the land – the pain of dispossession, rage due to the slow pace of redistribution, anxiety around the threat of violent land grabs – all bound up in a shifting network of inherited lines and limits that divide the land into territory, domain and jurisdiction. But the works in this series are not only constituted of South African maps. They are random amalgamations of fragments of Europe (many of the original maps referred to the First World War) and Africa, and in piecing them together he conflates space and historical time (some are recent maps, whereas some date back to the early 20th century) into what he thinks of as ‘migrant maps’. 

Directly referencing the the kind of makeshift, hybridised vessels we’ve witnessed people resorting to in the current migration crises of Europe, several of the works in this series have a raft-like look about them – temporary, floating, drifting between land(s) and territories. Hovering against a plane of deep opaque blackness, Marx’s reconstructed rafts/crafts transmit a sense of disorientation that is simultaneously disquieting and liberating. There is that vertiginous sci-fi sense of being cut loose from the mother ship to float indefinitely through all space and time, but also an ecstatic sense of possibility in being released from the grip of inherited systems of knowledge, measurement, power and control. – Alexandra Dodd









Ocean Crossing, 2019
Reconfigured Map fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
60 x 50cm











Triplicate, 2018
Reconfigured Map fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
70 x 90cm











Room, 2018
Reconfigured Map fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
50 x 60cm











Crossing, 2017
Reconfigured Map fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
70 x 90cm











Dwell, 2018
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic Ground and Canvas
120 x 120cm











Echo, 2018
Reconfigured Map fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
30 x 30cm












Five Holes in the Same Place, 2018
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic Ground and Canvas
120 x 120cm












Landscape Study, 2018
Reconfigured Map Fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
140 x 180cm












Migrant, 2018
Reconfigured Map Fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
180 x 220cm












Ocean Crossing, 2018
Reconfigured Map Fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
140 x 180cm











Antaeus In Mid-Air, 2018
Reconfigured Map fragments on Acrylic-Polyurethane Ground and Canvas
180 x 220cm











Circumscription, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvas
180 x 240cm











Plot, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvas
180 x 140cm












Transparent (Layering), 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvas












Circumscription, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map fragments on canvas and acrylic ground
240 x180cm












Slippage, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground with canvass and wooden substrate
120 x 120cm












Transparent (Swivel), 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvas












Landslide, 2017
Cut and Reconstituted Map Fragments on Acrylic ground and canvas
180 x 140cm